My Charlie Brown Christmas

It happens every year. Right on the heels of the most gluttonous Thursday of my life, it strikes: Christmas season.  

In fact, it seems like even before Thanksgiving is over, the makeshift pumpkin patches of Halloween have magically transformed into Christmas tree lots. Rooftops are trimmed with various blinking colorful lights. And  front lawns are now covered with inflatable or mechanical woodland creatures–or both. 

It all walks a thin line between festive and seizure inducing. 

And just as would be shoppers have claimed another Wal-Mart employee, I am stuck there with my annual Frosted Mini-Wheats dilemma: The kid in me really wants a fresh Christmas tree, but the adult in me cannot justify it. 

I know what you are probably thinking. Why not an artificial tree? All I can say is that it’s just not the same.  

As a kid, my father and I went to tree farms where we would chop one down in its prime. Not one of those “lots” people go to these days. I have very fond memories of being covered in tree sap, and impaled with pine needles. All of which I cherish to this day. 

Do you know how hard it is for an environmentalist to reconcile memories of chopping down a tree? It sucks. 

I have tried other options. My favorite is the Christmas rosemary bush. It comes all Christmas-tree-shaped. And it isn’t like the smell of rosemary is a horrible thing. 

But in the end, it’s not the same. I come back to this point because I think this is the same dilemma we all face everyday. As we work towards a greener lifestyle, how do we balance habits that we cherish with “what is right?” 

I’d like to say I know, but I really don’t. Do you?

As for the Christmas tree, well, most years I just don’t get one. Instead I cruise the lots like a meth addict, taking in that pine fresh smell and reminiscing about the good ol’ days. But some years I do break down and buy one. 

Don’t even get me started on whether or not I should get it flocked. 

Photo: © Rmcguirk |


Wanda P.
Wanda P9 years ago

We actually planted ??? pine trees on our property for this purpose. In another year or two we will start taking a tree here and there for Xmas, of course 2 or 3 more will be planted in it's place. If I can bear to cut them down.....

Constanca C.
Constanca C9 years ago

For me this is not a dilemma whatsoever. We used to have a real tree before the environmental issues were an issue. For some years now we use a fake tree that was my grandmother's. Can you imagine how many real trees were saved? If every family buys one fake tree that lasts all their life and then passes on to the grandkids and so on (a little bit harmful, but come on, you buy plastic things everyday which is worse) it is far more acceptable than chopping down thousands of real trees every year (and that's in a small country, imagine in the USA). About the smell, I miss it too but come on, this is our planet we're talking about, get over it.

Kristine M.
Past Member 9 years ago

My mother has had the same fake tree for my lifetime.

Xmas eve 1969 at 5:30 pm my father stepped out of the apartment. He and my mother were new immigrants from the West Indies and this was to be their first Christmas in Toronto, Canada.

So my father goes to Towers (a proto-Target of the day) and asks for a fake Christmas tree. By this time it is almost 6 pm and Towers is about to close.

"We've sold out of trees, " the salesclerk said.

My father spies a sole tree in the window: it is fully decorated and covered in Xmas lights.

"Might I have that one?" he says.

As so it was that my father walked home with a fully decorated Christmas tree in one hand, and the plug for the lights in the other.

Fast forward 38 years. My mother's marriage fell apart after three years, which is about the time the it was discovered that I was allergic to trees and the like. The original ornaments either broke or simply fell apart.

The tree, on the other hand is "alive" and well.

Yes, it is made of petroleum. Which is a scary thought, I admit. But so far 38 trees were not cut down and I have not had toss out a fake tree either in order to replace it.

I'm all for recycling and composting but as the same time I think we have a tendency to forget the "reuse" in the 3Rs.

Mary Smith
Mary Pekowski9 years ago

I think environmentalists in general are overzealous about cutting down trees in general. Do you know what it means when you go buy a stack of paper, or go to the Christmas tree lot and buy a tree? You're placing an order for more trees to be planted. It's different if you know some company is depleting the rain forest. But it this case, you KNOW that they're going to plant several trees in place of the one you cut down. Unless you're actually kooky enough to worry about the trees "feelings", then you're in the clear environmentally.

Chris W.
Chris W.9 years ago

A simple solution to the problem (if you have a yard): This year my parents ordered a tree with the rootball from a local nursery. They dug a hole in the yard before the ground froze so it can be planted when we are done using it as a christmas tree. I love the idea because, while I don't like cutting trees down, I CERTAINLY hate fake trees. Hope this helps!

Polly Rolman
Polly Rolman9 years ago

I'm going to have to say I agree with the people that said that fake trees are way worse for the environment. Fake trees require manufacturing, which is more damaging to the environment than the farming of real trees, and like someone else said, the fake trees will probably just end up in landfills. Most cities have some kind of recycling method for Christmas trees, such as chopping them up and using them as mulch.

If you live in Louisiana, having a Christmas tree can help save the Louisiana coast, which is diminishing at a rapid rate. The Christmas Tree Program takes Christmas trees that have been thrown out after the holidays and uses them to build a "brush fence" of wetland protection, which is a pretty awesome use for your tree! Check it out:

Jana Ballinger
Jana Ballinger9 years ago

I had the same dilemma: To tree or not to tree? But about 7 years ago I bought a metal ornament tree that I haul out every holiday season. It's cute and festive and resusable, all of which make me happy!

Forrest S.
Forrest S.9 years ago

Doesn't seem like that big of a dilemma. Tree farms grow the trees, the tree wouldn't be there if there wasn't someone growing it. They will then replant the tree so that in 8 years, someone else can buy another one. During that time, the tree will be sucking C02 out of the atmosphere, so by purchasing a tree, you're justifying that farmer growing trees, and thus creating vegetation that helps cleanse the atmosphere.

Other than driving to a tree farm, or a lot, I don't think a Holiday tree is really that big of an environmental issue.

Analiese S.
Analiese S.9 years ago

Tree sellers usually sell branches that have fallen off or needed to be cut off trees. We purchase these to decorate the top of our TV cabinet and mantel to get the pine smell with out the tree.

Analiese S.
Analiese S.9 years ago

If you go to those tree sellers they usually sell branches that have fallen off trees. We decorate the top of our TV cabinet and our mantel with these to get the smell in our home without the tree.